Fresh India protests against Kudankulam nuclear plant

Kudankulam plant, September 2012 Locals say the plant is located in an area which was badly affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami

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Villagers and fishermen from around the controversial Kudankulam nuclear plant in India's Tamil Nadu state are once again taking to the sea to protest against the fuelling of the plant.

The organisers said hundreds of boats carrying protesters would gather at 500 metres (.31 miles) from the plant.

Last month, hundreds of activists and locals had formed a human chain in the sea near the plant.

They fear a disaster similar to the one at Japan's Fukushima plant last year.

But India's government says the plant meets the highest safety standards and in September, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the anti-nuclear protesters to stop fuel being loaded into the plant.

However, it said that it would look into concerns over the plant's safety.

Security is tight around the plant with hundreds of police and paramilitary deployed in the area.

The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the group which is leading the protest, said fishermen, farmers and activists from Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi districts were expected to participate in Monday's protest.

"We have appealed to the government against fuel loading at the plant. When the entire world is shunning nuclear power, why shouldn't we?," NDTV channel quoted SP Udhayakumar, convenor of PMANE, as saying.

Mr Udhayakumar said it would be "a peaceful, non-violent protest".

'Completely safe'

Opponents of the plant say that it is located in an area which was badly affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The government is keen on pushing ahead with the project, which is seen as critical to India's energy needs. It says that the plant is "completely safe" and could be operational two months after the loading of the fuel.

But work there has often been halted by protests, which gained momentum after the Fukushima disaster.

People living close to the site have long been opposed to the joint Indo-Russian project. But businesses in the state, which suffers from power shortages, have welcomed it.

The plant is one of many that India hopes to build as part of its aim of generating 63,000 MW of nuclear power by 2032 - an almost 14-fold increase on current levels.

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